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The Future of Workspaces: Workshop Insights

Quick read: the neutrality of a workspace is not desirable. It has to be adapted to our mood fluctuations and energy level. It should also be adapted to the way we want to feel: people with low energy emotions prefere spaces that transmit high energy in order to boost teamwork. The spaces should be easy to read and ready to be workspaces in just a glimpse.

A space where we can even work

When we tested the different archetypes for workspaces, our goals were:

To evaluate whether the organisation of spaces by energy levels (high, neutral and low) impacted the choice that participants made of spaces.

To evaluate whether there was any difference in the choice of space when activities are in groups or individual.

To understand how different activities alter our perception and choice of the ideal space to carry them out.

We observed that it is important to create spaces which were capable of accommodating different activities and different employees, all with different emotions that vary during the workday. To promote the autonomy of the employee in the selection of spaces to suit their state of mind and task, the spaces do not necessarily have to communicate the activities that may occur there. What the spaces have to communicate is what can be found there. For example, noise levels, number of users, services, and equipment available, possibility of adaptation to tasks and general atmosphere.

We concluded that we felt good in a space when we recognised it as our own. For this to occur, the space must meet our expectations and cater for our needs. This does not mean that spaces have to be neutral: on the contrary, they must have well delimited sensory areas so that the mood of the space blends with our emotions.

Spaces which are easy to understand (like the ones we tested in 3 scenarios during the workshop) are those which communicate a clear set of rules without using signs or notices. They are spaces which use sensory strategies which allow an immediate comprehension of the environment.

We observed that even when people have negative emotions or are subject to more stressful times but have to carry out a team assignment, they realise that the best course of action is to suppress their individual emotion to give way to the best state of mind for the group. Practically speaking, some people with low energy emotions preferred the space which transmitted high energy in order to boost teamwork.

Most people chose different spaces in line with their individual emotional states. But not everyone with positive states of mind chose spaces with high or medium energy. In the same way, not everyone with negative states of mind chose spaces with dimmed light. There were also those who preferred always remaining in the same space, regardless of the type of activity they had to carry out or their state of mind. These people backed their choice by saying that the adaptation to new, still unknown spaces may take time and be an unnecessary waste of energy. We thus concluded that the space must be endowed with easy adaptation and rapid appropriation. This means that the materials should all be visible, and the person should not take more than a few seconds to learn everything about the place and its potential.

The choice of ideal work space is dependent on the emotional state of employees, as well as on the tasks that they have to complete. This means that if all employees were working at the same workspace simultaneously, the likelihood of not being comfortable and adapted is high. Their work would be less efficient and less productive.

How about in your organization? Does everyone share the same workspace?

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